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The open, patent-free, extensible Executable and Linkable Format (ELF) first appeared in UNIX System V around 1997; in that same year, the 86open project was convocated (that original document seems to have been lost, but I have archived it).

The DWARF specification for debugging data was developed alongside and in reference to ELF, but is independent of object file formats (subject to certain minimal requirements).


  • coreboot (formerly LinuxBIOS) can boot ELF images directly -- see mkelfimage

See also